To Kill A Mockingbird
•Harper Lee
•The Scottsboro Trials
Background on Harper Lee
• Largely autobiographical and like her
character, Boo Radley, Lee has had one
moment of notoriety, followed by years of
privacy and silence.
• born is Monroeville, Alabama, April 28,
• Third youngest of Amasa Coleman Lee and
Frances Finch (surname of mom is the
family name of the main characters).
Family life:
• Atticus Finch (main character) modeled after
father, Amasa (lawyer).
• Maycomb, the setting in To Kill A
Mockingbird is modeled after her hometown,
Monroeville, Alabama.
• Grew up during the Great Depression of the
1930s - much like Scout (narrator).
• “Nobody had any money. We didn’t have
toys…so the result was that we lived in our
imagination most of the time.”
• Childhood playmate - Truman Capote (Dill
is modeled after him).
• Although she loved writing, she had a
passion for law.
• Graduated public school, attended
Huntington College and the University of
Alabama. Went to Oxford University exchange student.
• Lee never earned law degree, but she feels
that studying law gave her a logic and a
lucidity helpful in her writing.
• Settled in New York City - worked as an
airline reservation clerk.
How did the story originate?
• Showed “some tales of her childhood” to a
literary agent, who urged her to put together a
• Events such as the Scottsboro Trials
• Thus - To Kill A Mockingbird: Published in
Awards and Achievements
• Best seller
• Pulitzer Prize for fiction
• Selected by both the
Literary Guild and the
Book-of-the-Month Club
• Alabama Library
Association Award
• National Conference of
Christians and Jews
Brotherhood Award
• Has a place amongst the
great works in
contemporary American
• Made into an Academy
Award winning movie in
• Ranks #34 on AFI all time
movie list.
What has she done since?
• Never published a novel again.
• Kept writing essays for magazines like
McCall’s and Vogue.
• Self described as a slow writer.
• It may be a summation of Lee’s life that she
has found nothing else to write about.
The Scottsboro Trials
• March 25, 1931: Police stop Southern Railroad
train in Paint Rock, Alabama.
• Scottsboro boys are arrested on charges of assault.
Rape charges are added against all nine boys after
accusations are made by Victoria Price and Ruby
• The two women are underage; older one is a
• Both smuggling and trying to avoid problems.
The Scottsboro Trials
• Oldest was 19; youngest was 12.
• Within one month of the first trial, the first AfricanAmerican is sentenced to death. Others condemned.
• Jury ignored evidence; wanted execution versus life
• None of the accused were executed.
• Central figure was second trial Judge Horton who
postponed trials and set aside a conviction contrary to
public outcry.
• Not until 1977 was the case finally settled.
The Scottsboro Boys
Charles Weems
Clarence Norris
Andy Wright
Ozie Powell
Olen Montgomery
Eugene Williams
Willie Roberson
Roy Wright
Haywood Patterson

Author and Scottsboro Trial PowerPoint